Served: My Waiter Peeves
I blog by day and wait tables by night. I'm excited to bring you Served, dispatches from the front of the house. Enjoy!
D., a fellow server, hates it, hates it, when people ask for paper napkins, spit their gum out, and leave him the parcel. He doesn’t want to have anything to do with things coming out of people’s bodily orifices.
It’s not like I enjoy collecting people’s used gum. But it grosses me out less than it does D. A little less.
We waiters all have different things that provoke us; things that make us grumble to each other, “I hate people!” Things that inspire even the most warmhearted and sweet to harbor homicidal fantasies.
Here are a few of mine:
1. Please, ask for my name, and introduce yourself. I love to meet people, and it’s cool if we know who each other are. I count many of my customers as genuine friends. But it aggravates me when someone asks for my name with no intention of revealing their own.
In this case, their query is not about being friendly or forging a relationship one step beyond anonymity. This kind of person wants my name as a sort of weapon, so that they can call across the crowded restaurant, “Hannah! Can we have more bread? The brown kind! Just the brown kind!” I am more than happy to get them more bread of any color. And bread-fetching is my job. Summoning me while I’m running hot food to a table is not going to help anything for anyone.
2. We always, always pour people tastes of wine before we pour them the whole glass. Don’t worry—rejecting the wine is more than ok. It doesn’t mean you’re being picky or difficult, and you don’t need to feel guilty or apologize profusely. You don’t need to apologize at all.
The reason for the taste is to help you find something that you like. It would be a shame for you to drink and pay for a glass of wine you’re not feeling. Our list includes some pretty funky stuff. How could anyone be expected to know if they’ll like a Moroccan syrah? Syrocco is made on a Moroccan vineyard collaboration with a Rhône winemaker. Ours tastes like Morocco—not that I’ve been, but it’s the Morocco of my imagination. It’s spicy and sultry and full of cinnamon, vanilla, and currants.
Anyway, it’s your prerogative to hate the Syrocco. But it doesn’t help either one of us if all you can say is, “Ew. I hate it.” Help me out a little. Tell me why. I pride myself on being able match up people, their palates, and their wine. But especially if I’ve just met you, I need a little something to work with. You don’t have to have an expansive wine knowledge or vocabulary. There is no right or wrong answer. It’s too strong; it’s too intense; it’s not fruity enough. That will do.
Then we can move away from your Syrocco incompatibility and onto something that will make you happy.
3. 1:30 AM is no time to behave like a pretentious snot. I’d place the reasonable pretention cut-off time at approximately midnight. Even that’s pushing it! Late nights are for enjoying your drinks and food, not for showing off.
4. At least once a night, someone points to a totally clean, naked plate where cheese once sat, and asks me, “Where was this cheese from again?” It’s a good question, I’m sure, but I am no psychic. We usually have more than forty cheeses being plated and served in various configurations. Even when there’s a bit of rind left, post-eating identification can requires high level forensics.
Luckily, if you remember something about the cheese you were eating—was it the second one in the line-up? was it the blue paired with our heavenly coconut lime fudge? did it have a bright orange exterior?—the fromager will know what I would not even attempt to guess.
“I’m sure I’m a horrible restaurant guest,” said a friend of mine who rarely goes out to eat. Why would he think such a thing?
I can’t speak for front-of-the-house people everywhere, but I am pretty easy to please. If you’re reasonably nice and leave a reasonably nice tip, you’re good by me. If you are having a great time, if you are super interesting and cool, that’s even better. And for added bonus, please try to spit out your gum before you come in.
But if you are into our place and what we do, if you are pleasant, I will forgive your ABC gum, and maybe even a mild case of pretention. Maybe.